Nutrition 101

Exchange or counting: which is right for you?.

Blood glucose can be managed many different ways. First, everyone was using the exchange system. The carb counting came on the scene in the 1990's and won over many people. They both work, bt which will work best for you?

The diabetic exchange divides foods into groups based on the Diabetes Food Pyramid. Each group is then subdivided into lists, and portion sizes are defined. You dietitian will design a plan for you, which usually includes at least one serving of each group per meal. Then at each meal you choose which food from each list you want to eat.

Sound complicated? Some people prefer the exchange system because it's more structured, so they aren't burdened with so many decisions to make about their diet on a day-to-day basis. It's also helpful when you are trying to lose weight becuase it ensures that you get the same fat, protein and carbohydrate intake every day.

Eating meals based on the same lists day after day doesn't leave much room for culinary adventures, so it's easy to see why so many people were eager to switch to counting carbs. It gives people a lot more flexibility and is easy to learn.

To start, you should first determine how many grams of carbs you should have per day. Your dietitian or doctor can help you with this. Then make sure that carbs are evenly distributed among your meals and snacks for the day.

Calculating how many carbs are in the foods you eat is usually pretty easy, since they're on food untritional labels. It can get a bit more compllicated when you cook for yourself or eat out, though, so you may want to invest in a carb counting resource guide. Check out iabetes.org for the ADA's recommendations.

No matter how you manage your diet, eat a variety of healthful foods and balance it with exercise for a healthy lifestyle.

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